Blog Post

DEM and Secure Connectivity Vendor Offerings: The Fox & The Henhouse

Digital experience monitoring done right means working with an independent, third-party vendor.

A typical service delivery chain starts from the device and runs through the network and all the way through to the application. There are many things that can go wrong along the way! It’s critical to monitor that experience and quickly understand where issues occur, why they occur, and what can be done to remedy them. That’s where employee and/or customer Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) comes into play.

That said, DEM done right means working with an independent, third-party vendor. Why? Just as you wouldn’t trust the proverbial fox to keep an accurate count of hens in the henhouse, you would be well off questioning the findings of a vendor that is monitoring itself. Isn’t there just a slight possibility they have a vested interest in not advertising their own weaknesses or issues?

Technological Trends Accelerate the Need For Monitoring

Accelerated by the pandemic, there are three major technological trends driving increased adoption of digital technologies, whether it be in e-commerce, remote work, gaming, or streaming.

  1. Cloud is the new data center. According to Gartner, the public cloud market revenue doubles in 2024 from what it was in 2020.
  2. SaaS is the primary application delivery model. According to a Cisco eBook titled Roadmap to SASE, 60% of organizations use SaaS.
  3. Internet is the new network. The emerging secure connectivity options such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), cloud on-ramp, cloud direct connect, etc. are transforming the way remote users connect to the applications over the internet. For example, according to Gartner, SD-WAN market size doubled in 2019.

Some of the top options and associated vendors in the secure connectivity technology space include SASE (Cato networks, Cloudflare, Zscaler, etc.), SD-WAN (Cisco, Fortinet, VMware, etc.), ZTNA (Akamai, F5 Networks, Zscaler), Cloud on-ramp (Cisco), Cloud direct connect (all major cloud providers AWS Direct Connect, Azure Express Route, Google Interconnect). Note that these secure connectivity technologies span remote work, branch, headquarters, data center, and cloud scenarios.

All of the technologies mentioned above are important parts of the service delivery chain and need to be taken into consideration when developing a DEM strategy.

Let’s review some of the key DEM considerations related to monitoring the secure connectivity technologies mentioned above. These have been developed based on best practices and the in-depth observations we’ve made after many years of experience working with global customers. These considerations will help you understand both why monitoring is critical and the reasons it’s key to use a third-party vendor for your monitoring needs.

1. Develop a Monitoring Plan For Before, During, and After Your Secure Connectivity Technology Rollout

As you roll out new secure connectivity technologies, you are bound to make decisions and encounter problems in three areas. Catchpoint’s DEM solution can help you discover and handle those challenges before they become unmanageable.

1. Before committing to buy the new secure connectivity technology

If the new technology (VPN-replacement) is replacing an existing connectivity choice, Catchpoint can help with performance baselining to ensure the user experience is not degraded through technology change. Some of the secure connectivity vendors may offer you their own performance baselining offerings primarily focused on baselining for “network” parameters. In contrast, Catchpoint Endpoint Monitoring provides you with a real view of how end users are perceiving key metrics such as network latency against application page load times.

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Fig 1. Long Term Performance and Availability Baselining Across Multiple Internet Layers and Specific End User Dimensions

2. While rolling out new technology

Speedier troubleshooting is the key need customers have while rolling out new technology. Catchpoint offers true device, network, and application visibility. It also correlates the data collected and surfaces the issues to reduce MTTR and MTTI.

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Fig 2,3,4: Automatic Identification and Drill Down Capabilities into End-User Network and Application Errors

3. Day-day monitoring

As the technology landscape becomes increasingly more complex (and no longer contained within a data center) with cloud, Internet, and SaaS, IT teams need to have true end-end visibility. This is particularly true when businesses rely on the Internet to deliver services and products while having little or no control over it.

In the early days of the pandemic, getting employees enabled to work remotely was the priority. A year into the pandemic, many of our customers are now starting to seriously consider employee productivity, digital customer experience, and IT efficiency. This is where the true value of end-to-end visibility provided by Catchpoint comes into play.

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Fig 5,6: Day to Day Monitoring of Individual User’s End to End Application and Network Experience

2. Your DEM Solution Must Show You the End-User Perspective

The end-user perspective (whether customer, employee, or partner) for any DEM offering is essential. It’s how end users are perceiving their digital experiences, after all! Thus, end-to-end visibility into the service delivery chain is essential.

Catchpoint Endpoint Monitoring collects a wide range of metrics for the various components of the service delivery chain to identify the impact that the device, network, and application have on the overall user experience. Since looking through hundreds – if not thousands –  of metrics can be cumbersome, Catchpoint includes score metrics that represent a collection of related metrics in one simple measurement. This vastly reduces the time required to understand user experience and troubleshoot issues.

Many of our customers are reaping benefits such as reduction in MTTR, MTTI, and improved IT efficiency through end-to-end visibility. Also, we are currently beta testing a capability to allow end users to resolve issues on their own and provide self-serve capabilities augmented by correlation and application of AI/ML technologies.

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Fig 7: Experience scores at device, network and application-level derived from relevant metrics

In addition to the Endpoint offering, Catchpoint also offers enterprise (for on-prem and cloud environments) and public nodes (last mile, backbone, cloud) monitoring options. In this way, you can gain the most out of your DEM solution, taking advantage of more broad and robust capabilities than other options in the market.

3. Don’t Ever Use a System To Monitor Itself

Domain experts such as Adrian Cockcroft have written blog posts about this topic, and we agree. It’s never a good idea to use a system to monitor itself. In fact, many of the secure connectivity vendors mentioned above are using Catchpoint today exactly for that third-party perspective.

As an enterprise customer, you likely have SLAs offered by these secure connectivity vendors. Catchpoint can help you monitor your SLAs in order to can keep those vendors honest. Our Endpoint offering is easy to install and extremely lightweight in terms of control and usage of resources on the desktop.

In fact, while I was managing products at Akamai and before that at EMC, our enterprise customers almost invariably always trusted a third-party vendor for visibility into CDN performance data and storage performance data respectively. It’s a well-known practice and one that both vendors and enterprises agree is smart to follow.

Conclusion: Don’t Leave the Fox In the Henhouse

As the fox and henhouse fable cautions, it’s never a good idea to trust someone with their own interests at heart to guard your valuables. Think twice before you trust a secure connectivity vendor for your DEM needs over a DEM industry leader such as Catchpoint.

At Catchpoint, our mission is to empower our customers to provide the best experience through digital experience monitoring. Watch this video to see Catchpoint in action and check out our endpoint monitoring solution to learn more.

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